Tim Huffaker

I admit my perspective on business is biased towards selling.  Engineers are equally partisan to research and development as the key to profitability.  Bottom line economics might truly suggest even the very best products sitting in inventory unsold will not generate a profit until a sale is made. 

Some products and services are so unique they basically sell themselves. Those are the products companies dream of, but almost never experience. The vast majority of all products and services must be actively sold in order to generate revenue. Without a revenue stream, companies fail.  Why then do so many companies only give sales improvement lip service, when increased sales are so critical to their survival?

Salespeople are begging for more training and greater skills.  Businesses are pleading for more profitable sales and customers are seeking aimlessly for the solutions only your products can offer.  I have a client who sells both products and service. They have calculated very conservatively that one dollar of service sales generates more than four dollars in product sales.  They know the best way to sell products is to first sell service. The very best way to increase sales is to invest in sales improvement training. Every dollar invested in a sustainable improvement program should return a minimum of five dollars in additional gross profit.  You should expect no less than a five hundred percent return on your training investment. Product development expenditures keep you competitive in the marketplace and companies regularly spend large sums of money in this arena, while they hope sales will improve. Sales don’t just happen.  Increased sales are the result of a deliberate investment in training, and that training will generate a return greater than any anticipated sales margin on your product.

Several years ago I had a client who truly understood this principle.  He told other companies he would pay for the training of their salespeople and in return he would collect a fee equal to fifty percent of the profit generated on their increased sales.  He perceived the financing of sales training to be as profitable as the manufacturing and selling of products, without all the headaches and inherent risks. Investing in your salespeople provides the greatest return on investment your company can make.  Nothing happens in business until the sale is made. If the sale of goods and services drive the economy, then the biggest investment any company should make would be to increase the sales of their products. Marketing and advertising are often huge investments, but don’t forget the bottom line truth, people buy from people, and the more skilled your salespeople are, the more sales your company will make.

Many professions require their people to participate in continuing education programs in order to stay current with new technologies, practices and trends in their industry.  Doctors spend an estimated ten hours per week learning and studying to stay current with the latest developments. CPA’s spend on average eight hours each week studying tax codes and the latest changes to tax laws.  Attorneys spend several hours, on a regular basis, researching case law in order to better serve their clients. How much time do salespeople spend learning the principles and skills that will allow them to increase their sales and the gross profit revenue of the company?  Unfortunately, not nearly enough. Salespeople should be honing their skills continually for their own benefit, and their employers should be investing regularly in the development of their salespeople to ensure the growth and vitality of the company.